Seat Exeo Review
We’ve got our hands on one of these as well….we own it. After a good look around for a new motor after all the cars we’ve owned, this was amazing.
The Exeo is an Audi A4 (B7 Shape) with some enhancements to make it feel more modern and more fresh. A revised front and rear end to take newly designed headlights with DRLs (on the facelift model) and LED rear lights, add in extra sound proofing, a slightly revised front suspension set up, acoustic windscreen and in the facelift model, the new common rail diesels from the VAG group and you end up with a well sorted car.
When the A4 B7 finished its production run the equipment was taken out of the factory in Germany and shipped off to Spain to start the Exeo run.
Look at in the flesh and this facelift model looks even more like the Audi it is/was underneath and people would be forgiven for mistaking it as one as it is such a handsome car to look at. The Pre-Facelift doesn’t seem to have the same presence or ‘look’ about it.
The model we have is the range topping 2.0TDi Sport Tech 170 ST. This comes fitted with Leather, Auto Lights, Auto Wipers, Dual-Zone Climate Control, Cruise Control, Speed Sensitive Power Steering, Rear Parking Sensors, Auto Dipping Rear View Mirror, Directional Bi-Xenon Headlights, Daytime Running Lights, Bluetooth, Bose Sound System, RNS-E Sat Nav, iPod Connector and Aux in.
You get a lot of bang for your buck, our 12 Reg example at the end of 2013 cost us £14,650. With just 12k miles on the clock in immaculate condition having been registered to SEAT UK as one of their Reps cars.
Boring bit out of the way first, Servicing on these is ‘Long Life’ and I’m personally not too sure about leaving a car to do 20,000 miles before its first service but this is what we’re told to do. If you do shorter Journeys where the car would not warm up properly, pop down to the shops then you’d be on short servicing at the normal intervals of around 10k due to the increased wear on the engine.
Having spoken to owners on various forums they all seem to take the stance of changing the oil themselves in between these long services, something I may start doing myself, with the correct oil of course.
A normal service gets done at our local main dealer for just £180 and a more in depth service which happens on its 3rd service goes to £260 then drops to £180 again after that. Not too bad at all considering equivalent Audi prices!
After your done looking at the Exeo it’s time to get inside and drive.
Inside you’re greeted with the Audi A4 Cabriolet interior, with circular air vents, make it look a lot fresher than the saloon counterparts and again gives the Exeo a modern look.
The seats are very comfy and supportive with lots of adjustment in height and lumbar support.
The CR Engines are known for having better reliability than the pre-facelifts PD engines. A lot of people put this down to VAG trying to get the PD engines to meet emissions regulations and bolting on DPFs that they were never designed to handle in the first place. This is something to look out for when buying a Diesel pre-facelift.
With that in mind the CR engine fired into life with a dull clatter but as soon as it’s running, it’s very quiet and we’ve had a few people ask us if it’s Petrol or Diesel it’s that quiet inside.
The electric speed sensitive steering only comes on this range topping Sport Tech 170 and it does a good job of giving you feel of the road if you push the car. It’s very light manoeuvring in car park spaces and weights up nicely when blasting around the b roads or sitting on the motorway. The one thing to mention is it groans when turning at slow speeds and again after speaking to many owners, seems to be something they ‘do’ however the Audi it’s all based on had issues with Power Steering Racks, so get it checked out to make sure.
The Sport Tech as far as I can tell is based on the S-Line underneath, it comes with massive 18” alloys with Dunlop low profile tyres from the Factory. With all this in mind you are met with a stiff set up but nothing that would put you off but you can clearly tell the difference between a beautiful bit of tarmac and a forgotten bit of road.
The ride is very smooth and would easily eat those motorway miles whilst always hankering for a good thrash around the country lanes, the car feels firm, confident and very easy to handle which makes it fun and safe at the same time, great right?
This comes with a 6 speed manual box, in my mind 1 of the 2 things that let this car down a little. Shorter gears aid acceleration and does help economy somewhat at slower speeds, however you do find yourself changing gear a lot compared to other cars we’ve driven and at 70mph, you’re looking at just 40-45mpg.
At 60mph on b roads, working the gearbox gets you above 50mpg which we’re happy with as that’s where our car now spends its life but any longer journeys and it’s not so easy on the wallet.
This is a bit disappointing given the spiel about great economy, if you want that though, the 2.0TDi with 143bhp is the way forward.
The 2nd thing to let this down is the Sat Nav system. This comes with the same RNS-E unit from Audi and is dated, very dated. The positives are that the actual Sat Nav is actually one of the better ones I’ve seen as a factory fit item, except it only takes half a post code. However you do get your next turn put on the colour display between your Speedo and Rev counter, great for keeping your eyes on the road.
The Bose sound system is amazing, great clarity and great depth with good base and no distortion, brilliant!
Also the Bluetooth is great when communicating to our Android phones, you’re able to speak and hear the other person no problems at all even when travelling at speed.
As it’s an older unit there are a few drawbacks, already mentioned the postcode, the other is connectivity, especially with iPods. The Sport Tech comes with a dedicated iPod dock instead of a USB socket…we thought great, until we plugged one in. It creates a virtual 6CD Changer and displays tracks as just numbers, it can’t pull up any info recording artist, track name and we couldn’t see that it had access to all the music, it was useless and pointless.
In the end we forgot about the iPod dock and used an Aux cable that plugs in next to the handbrake and control the music directly from the iPod, that…is a bit of a fail.
However the mentioned Aux jack is great for this use but you do get 2 SD memory card slots to use for music, just dump loads of music on an SD card and away you go…again being an older unit some music formats aren’t compatible but most MP3s do work.
The second thing there is no Bluetooth audio streaming again something a lot of people have gotten used to and something you’d expect on a 12 reg car.
Also there is no DVD Video capability even though the Sat Nav discs are DVDs, so if you have to take your lunch in the car or show off to your mates you have TV in it…you can’t.
During the run of the Exeo, Japan was hit by the devastating Tsunami, when this happened the production of the RNS-E became difficult so Exeo owners were presented with a Pioneer alternative, something that is both looked upon as a positive and a negative and you should look out for when buying one.
You gain better postcode functionality but lose the display between your clocks and you also lose the designed from scratch element of the Bose sound system compared to the RNS-E Unit.
This car is a bargain. It looks great in an executive car park, it looks great in your rear view mirror, it will happily transport normal sized individuals with no problem at all and will do it in a fun and safe way.
If you’re looking for something that has build quality second to none, comes with all these toys, then look no further for the money.
Good Pre-facelift examples though can be had for a smidge over 5k and you still get the refinement inside and in the real world, I doubt the PD engines give too much grief as they were in thousands and thousands of VW Audi Group cars.
The only think to dampen your spirits would be slightly outdated technology and at least on our 170, poor economy on the motorway.
Well done SEAT, it’s a shame you stopped selling them.